Cloud-based 'digital twins' could make power plants more efficient

GE software will take big data from sensors and simulate a power plant in real time

Electricity may be the lifeblood of the IT, but the industry that produces it has been slow to take advantage of computing advances. That may be changing, with a cool new tool from GE that could help keep power plants running.

Big data and Internet of Things technology may offer particular advantages to power systems that are spread out across whole regions, have thousands of specialized parts and have to operate at all times.

General Electric supplies a lot of the parts that go into power plants and grids, and it's been working on applying IoT to the field for several years. Now the company's GE Power & Water division is giving plant operators an identical, virtual power plant that runs in the cloud.

The Digital Power Plant is a real-time simulation that models the present state of every asset in a gas power plant or wind farm. By knowing what kind of condition each part is in, for example, operators can do fixes and maintenance when they're needed to keep things running as efficiently as possible. GE announced the Digital Power Plant at an event in San Francisco.

The virtual plant also lets administrators simulate different conditions and find out how the real plant would respond to them. For example, demand may go up or down because of weather or events and power companies want to be prepared to respond. Supply can also fluctuate, partly due to renewable energy sources such as solar and wind that vary as natural conditions change.

Utilities need to deal with a growing volume of data as equipment gets more instrumentation and energy grids grow more complex. A typical gas power plant has more than 10,000 sensors, said Ganesh Bell, chief digital officer at GE Power & Water. Only about two percent of that data gets analyzed today, he said.

The Digital Power Plant is based on Predix, GE's software platform for industrial IoT, but isn't limited to GE's own components in a plant. It can manage any asset in a power plant, Bell said.

Applied to an already built gas power plant, the digital twin can save as much as US$50 million over the remaining life of the plant, GE says. That includes lower fuel costs, lower emissions, increased performance and reduced unplanned downtime. For a new plant, it could be $230 million.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags big datageneral electricDigital Power Plant

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Stephen Lawson

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?